by: Madeleine Pauker
original article: https://www.smdp.com/public-comment-sought-for-new-parks-plan/173204
Residents will be able to learn about and provide feedback on a plan that will shape Santa Monica’s parks for the next 20 years.
The City of Santa Monica is hosting an open house Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Tongva Park to provide information and solicit input on the Parks & Recreation Master Plan Update. The event will feature interactive stations, family fun games, live music and light refreshments.
The City has been inviting input on the master plan update at neighborhood organizations and events, outreach booths and farmers’ markets since last January, and also conducted an online survey. It has collected feedback from more than 2,500 individuals so far and is planning to add a multitude of features to the parks, ranging from new play areas and gathering spaces to expanded programming and more opportunities for food and beverage options.
The needs assessment report on the master plan update describes possible initiatives the City could implement in eight different categories.
The first category, “Enhance Play for All,” suggests adding a large destination play area with different types of play experiences not already available in Santa Monica and integrating playful amenities, games and pop-up programming into existing parks. The section also proposes expanding access and hours for drop-in play at sports fields and facilities, building new gymnasium and aquatics facilities and increasing inclusive design throughout the parks system.
The second section is titled “Strengthen Access to Parks, Facilities and the Beach” and focuses on making more parks accessible by foot, bicycle, bus or train. The third, “Rethink Streets with Park Potential,” raises the possibility of using the Olympic and San Vicente Boulevard medians for recreation, adding parklets, gardens and green spaces around the city and producing open streets events.
The report proposes adding more seating and tables to create small gathering spaces or larger ones that could be reserved for events in its fourth category, “Foster Social Interaction.” The section also supports installing more public art, expanding neighborhood, cultural and educational programming and incorporating the sale of food and beverages at the parks.
Residents want the parks to be greener and more natural spaces, according to the report, and its fifth category, “Increase Green Infrastructure,” calls for community gardens and urban agriculture, more trees and drought-resistant landscaping. The following section, “Optimize Existing Park and Beach Experiences,” suggests constructing multipurpose facilities, renovating indoor spaces and partnering with outside institutions to maintain the parks and beach.
The report calls on the master plan to “Design and Program Public Spaces with Safety in Mind.” The Recreation and Parks Commission recently declared a safety crisis in the parks and at the beach, asking City Council to step up police presence in the parks and establish a beach curfew. Council discussed the issue Tuesday night.
The proposed master plan initiatives echo Council’s previous comments on the matter, such as activating the parks with programming to deter criminal activity and increasing the presence of Santa Monica Hospitality Ambassadors.
Finally, the report outlines the City’s plan to create new park land in neighborhoods and downtown, in small, underutilized spaces and even over the 10 freeway. It also advises developing a strategy to convert the Santa Monica Airport, which will close by 2028, into a park.
After soliciting feedback at Saturday’s open house, the City will draft a master plan this summer for Council to adopt in winter 2019.